Animal behaviour


Environmental and Regional Studies (3rd level)

Biodiversity and ecology (3rd Cycle)

Course code: DIB04
Year of study: without

Course principal:
Prof. Simona Kralj-Fišer, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 30 hours, seminar 15 hours, other learning forms 15 hours, individual work 120 hours
Course type: modul elective
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminar, e-learning


Course syllabus (download)


Finished bachelors or masters degree in Biology or equivalent program of study


Content (Syllabus outline):

  • History and introduction; proximate and ultimate causes of behaviour
  • Interplay between proximate factors (genes, neural system and hormones), environment and behaviour; “nature and nurture”
  • Behavioural genetics
  • Behavioural neuroscience
  • Behavioural endocrinology
  • Methods in behavioural biology
  • Biology of aggressive behaviour
  • Biology of social behaviour and altruism
  • Biology of reproductive behaviour
  • Biology of parenting behaviour
  • Individual behavioural differences
  • Evolution of behaviour
  • Biology of human behaviour



  • Alcock, J. (2013). Animal behavior: an evolutionary approach. Sinauer Associates
  • Martin, P., & Bateson, P. (2007). Measuring Behaviour: An Introductory Guide. Cambridge University Press


Objectives and competences:

The purpose of the course is to familiarize the students with the behavioural biology concepts explaining behaviour as a manifestation of different proximal and distal processes. The course will define basic concepts, methods and research topics in the field of behavioural biology. The course will present the interplay between genes, nervous system, hormones and environment, the factors having indivisible effects on the manifestation of behaviour. The course will introduce the topics that explain how proximal and distal factors affect aggressive behaviour, social behaviour and altruism, mating behaviour, sexual systems and strategies, and parental behaviour. The aim of this course is to familiarize the students with individual variability in behaviour, selection and evolutionary change in behaviour. Synthesis of the acquired knowledge and comparative methods will enable further insight / interpretation of human behaviour.


Intended learning outcomes:

  • Knowledge of methods and concepts in behavioural biology.
  • Ability to interpret behaviour from different perspectives (genes, environment, development, evolution).
  • Knowledge of modern research topics in the field of behavioural biology.



Exam (50 %); written paper (50 %).